Autonomous autos, learning by reading, and insurance

“While strong AI still lies safely beyond the Maes-Garreau horizon (a vanishing point, perpetually fifty years ahead) a host of important new developments in weak AI are poised to be commercialized in the next few years. But because these developments are a paradoxical mix of intelligence and stupidity, they defy simple forecasts, they resist hype. They are not unambiguously better, cheaper, or faster. They are something new.

“What are the implications of a car that adjusts its speed to avoid collisions … but occasionally mistakes the guardrail along a sharp curve as an oncoming obstacle and slams on the brakes? What will it mean when our computers know everything — every single fact, the entirety of human knowledge — but can only reason at the level of a cockroach?”
Steve G. Steinberg on “new developments in AI”

H/T: Mike Shaver

Clay Shirky on paywalls, cognitive surplus, and humans

“The final thing I’d say about optimism is this. If we took the loopiest, most moonbeam-addled Californian utopian internet bullshit, and held it up against the most cynical, realpolitik-inflected scepticism, the Californian bullshit would still be a better predictor of the future. Which is to say that, if in 1994 you’d wanted to understand what our lives would be like right now, you’d still be better off reading a single copy of Wired magazine published in that year than all of the sceptical literature published ever since.”
Clay Shirky, from an interview in The Guardian

An Optimistic Investor’s Perspective on Innovation

Ray Kurzweil maps out an optimistic view of the future with a tremendous amount of data supporting his main thesis — that the rate of innovation is increasing on a geometric scale. This means that innovation is happening faster every day. … The data supports the fact that we’ll see more innovation in the next ten years than we’ve seen in the last one hundred years. If you are an investor or entrepreneur, this is the best time in history to make a fortune and create a better world.”
–  Thomas G. McInerney, in his essay “Why Gold May Be a Bad Investment”

Get cracking, only 10 years to go

“While they acknowledge that use of the internet as a tool for communications can yield both positive and negative effects, a significant majority of technology experts and stakeholders participating in the fourth Future of the Internet survey say it improves social relations and will continue to do so through 2020.”

From the July 2010 Pew Research Center report, “The Future of Online Socializing”

IBM names Firefox its default browser

“While other browsers have come and gone, Firefox is now the gold standard for what an open, secure, and standards-compliant browser should be,” he said. “I think it was Firefox and its growth that reinvigorated the browser market as well as the web. That is, Firefox forced competitors to respond. Their software has gotten better and we have all benefited.”
Bob Sutor of IBM, as reported by Stephen Shankland for CNET News. Congratulations to Mozilla on this achievement.

june musical interlude

I made a couple of CDs this week as farewell roadtrip companions, for two good friends who just departed Oakland to return home to the east coast.

Here are the playlists:

You can find a bunch of this music on Hype Machine. The way I find music these days is to hear it on the radio, or read a review. Then I go to Hype Machine, where you can usually preview new stuff. If you visit the blogs they list that feature the song you’re interested in, they often have lots of good related songs in the same post.

Here’s an example. (Click on the “Read full post” links on each song listing to check out the source blog posts.)

Leroy Stick – the man behind @BPGlobalPR

“You know the best way to get the public to respect your brand? Have a respectable brand. Offer a great, innovative product and make responsible, ethical business decisions. Lead the pack! Evolve! Don’t send hundreds of temp workers to the gulf to put on a show for the President. Hire those workers to actually work! Don’t dump toxic dispersant into the ocean just so the surface looks better. Collect the oil and get it out of the water! Don’t tell your employees that they can’t wear respirators while they work because it makes for a bad picture. Take a picture of those employees working safely to fix the problem. Lastly, don’t keep the press and the people trying to help you away from the disaster, open it up so people can see it and help fix it. This isn’t just your disaster, this is a human tragedy. Allow us to mourn so that we can stop being angry.”
“Leroy Stick – the man behind @BPGlobalPR” via @marshallk and Melissa Shapiro